To all of you who have been away, welcome back. To all of you who are new, welcome to the party. Despite their abusive behavior, they were absolutely right about us all being addicts so it's time for NHL hockey again. Frankly, we'll be lapping it up as usual. Moo, mooo.
If the first day of the season is "rivalry day" across the NHL, then we get the Redheaded Stepchild Game as the Islanders open at home against the New Jersey Devils. Season preview and morning links are in the other posts in this stream, so this post is dedicated more to lineup-specific notes and quotes for both teams.
Devils (0-0-0, last place) @ Islanders (0-0-0, first place)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Saluting Captain Salvador: In Lou We Trust
Both teams are generally pegged to vie for fourth spot in the Atlantic Division, and both have made some curious moves (or lack of moves) over the offseason.
The Devils lost captain and cornerstone Zach Parise to free agency and they start the season without 2011-12 Calder Trophy finalist Adam Henrique, who had surgery on his thumb and is weeks away.
They're also keeping Adam Larsson out of the lineup and giving 29th overall selection Stefan Matteau his debut at age 18.
Over the summer, the Devils also signed Bryce Salvador to a pretty lengthy extension and named him captain, then gave Travis Zajac the first max-length contract of the new CBA. Their lines in practice have looked like this...
Dainius Zubrus-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk
Mattias Tedenby-Patrik Elias-David Clarkson
Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier
Stefan Matteau-Jacob Josefson-Cam Janssen
... which is one reason Eric Boulton will probably be in the lineup against his old team. Expect Boulton and Janssen to meet and do the NHL Relevance Ritual.
For the Islanders, we covered their offseason overview and likely lines earlier.
For tonight, Jack Capuano confirmed Keith Aucoin will make his Islanders debut. Who else though is a question. If Boulton is in the lineup with Aucoin you'd think Marty Reasoner should sit. But it seems that will be a gametime decision.
David Ullstrom, Casey Cizikas and Colin McDonald formed a line at Bridgeport and in the abridged camp this week, but will they be kept together?
They'll also decide on defense closer to the game, but Newsday's Arthur Staple has one hint that Radek Martinek is among the scratches.
Evgeni Nabokov will start tonight, and ESPN has an odd quote from Jack Capuano about the decision process:
"I sat down with (goaltending coach) Mike Dunham and our coaches and if I said we're going with Ricky, then we talked about why aren't you going with Nabby," Capuano said. "It's just one of those things that Nabby finished the year last year and hopefully he's off to a good start here tonight against New Jersey."
Well yes, let's just hope Nabby gets off to a good start.
LHH Regulars: FIGs and Fantasy
This is our first game under the new site design launched last fall. We'll be toying with the new tools, but you can expect related posts around each game to be packaged in single "Story Streams." Always open to pros and cons feedback from users on how you like (or dislike) and use the interface.
FIGs: Many of you may be looking for our First Islanders Goal pool. (Which isn't really a pool. Rewards are all karma-based and non-taxable.) The instructions for this year are in this FanPost. The place to leave your FIG picks for tonight is right here.
Fantasy Hockey: Do we have enough interest to go here? I apologize, I didn't participate last year so I'm not sure who the regulars are. Check this thread though if you're game.
P.S. Oh yes, Butchie is on Twitter.